Thursday, November 25, 2004

Giving Thanks

What’s to be thankful for? Lots, thankfully. Gina, Sagada, my parents, my bro and sis, my really big extended family including sisters-in-law, bothers-in-law, uncles, aunts, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins, pets (you get the idea), and last but not least, all the friends I’ve made who share in this great insanity called biking. And most of all, the fact that I can still do stuff like this:

We headed out for Jim Thorpe on a Friday-- Gina, the kid, my old man, little sis, and myself. I was driving a full wagon with three bikes on top. My dad, who hadn’t been on a bike in years, would ride one of my singlespeeds, just in case the climbs proved too easy for him.
We stayed at Mary’s Guesthouse, a very nice downtown hostel that was less than half a mile from the trailhead. Sounds easy, but that half-mile is sort of a gut-busting road climb.

Negotiating the stone ledge

We started out early Saturday morning and after the road climb, we headed out on the Switchback trail to the base of Flagstaff Peak. From there it’s a 1.6 mile fire road climb up to the top. “Climb 1.6 miles?” my dad asks, “I don’t even walk 1.6 miles.” Although he did wind up walking most of it, he hung in there like a champ, stopping only occasionally to catch his breath, or maybe to curse me under his breath. Gina flew up the mountain like it was nothing, stopping only to keep us in sight. At the top we make a right onto the singletrack. We were planning to ride the Mauch Chunk ridge trail and descend back to town, but I take a wrong turn and immediately bomb us back down the mountain on a super rocky water chute which blows out my front tire. We’ve missed the ridge trail completely and none of us have the legs to make the climb again. To make up for my mistake, we ride another, less steep trail to the top of Pisgah peak. On the way carry our bikes across the famous stone ledge and reach the peak where we see the old “power station” of the gravity railroad that used to run through there. From the top, we descend the old (very) rocky wagon road back into town. Props to my dad for hanging in there, on a rigid singlespeed with regular flat pedals no less.

The old wagon road descent

The next day I wake up early for a solo ride. The fog is thick on the ground as I head up the road to the trailhead. The climb up Flagstaff has me sucking wind by the time I reach the top. Once on the singletrack, the sight of the morning ground fog wrapping itself around the babyheads and algae-laden puddles, coupled with the pounding of blood in my ears, gives me the shivers. This part of the trail is absolutely beautiful. I stop for a while to take it all in. The peaceful feeling ends shortly, however, and a slight panic sets in as I realize I might be lost. The theme from “Deliverance” somehow creeps into my head as I survey the primeval forest around me. I’ve doubled back a few times already and the guide book is useless at this point. Somehow, after a few miles of some really awesome singletrack, I find the Fireline Trail, a 3.5 mile gradual descent back to the highway (with absolutely no turns, so sit back and enjoy the speed!). I push on to complete the whole “Twin Peaks” loop, finally climbing up to Pisgah peak where I’m greeted by a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. We somehow missed this overlook the previous day. As I descend the wagon road and head back into town, I think of my idea of a perfect ride and how these last two came pretty close. Thanks to all the folks from MORE who helped me pick out such a great spot to spend a weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The town of Jim Thorpe, PA


Blogger DT said...

Sounds like it was a fun trip. I've never been up there, but I hear the trails are sweet.

9:24 AM

Blogger Leicel said...

It sure sounded like a FUN FUN trip! But...what about "Gina, Sagada, my parents, my bro and sis, and SISTER IN LAW!?!?!?" j/k...still love ya!

9:58 PM


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